It took a week to confirm the candidature of Congress President Rahul Gandhi in Wayanad after the AICC General Secretary and former Chief Minister of Kerala Oomen Chandy first hinted at the possibility.
When the big decision was officially announced on March 31, the Left was prompt to react. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that the Left was strong enough to face anyone and that the party would try and defeat Rahul Gandhi. But though the Left's show of strength in the Congress bastion was impressive, nobody anticipated that Rahul Gandhi would win the seat with a mammoth margin of 4,31,195 votes.
The Congress president lost his Amethi seat to Smriti Irani, but he has won Wayanad with one of the highest margins in south India. Not only that, this victory is now the highest margin by which any candidate has won an election in Kerala, the previous record being E Ahamed of IUML winning Malappuram in 2014 with a margin of 1,94,739 votes.
It didn't make any difference that Rahul Gandhi had campaigned only for a few hours in Wayanad while the LDF's Suneer had done commendable work in the constituency. Rahul visited Wayanad for filing his nomination on April 4, after which he embarked on a road show along with AICC General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra. He visited the constituency again on April 17. However, by the time Rahul Gandhi's candidature was confirmed, Suneer had completed at least two rounds of campaigning. The NDA's candidate Thushar Vellappally of the BDJS joined the battle late and only after Rahul Gandhi decided to contest the election.
The UDF had been confident of Rahul Gandhi's victory in Wayanad, with the party predicting a large margin. However, the Left put up a fight with campaigns for Suneer by national leaders and sitting CM Pinarayi Vijayan . Suneer's door to door campaign also helped. But at the end of the day, Rahul Gandhi polled a total of 7,05,371 votes while Suneer got 2,74,176 votes.
The Wayanad Lok Sabha constituency was carved out in 2008 following the delimitation exercise. In 2009 and 2014, MI Shanavas of the Congress won the seat. In the LDF, it is one of the four seats that has been allotted for the CPI. Shanavas died in November 2018, leaving the seat vacant.
Though Shanavas’s victory margin had reduced drastically between 2009 and 2014, the Congress state leadership suggested the seat for the party chief considering Wayanad’s political lineage. They judged the impact of a candidature of such national prominence on the voters correctly. Shanavas’s margin in 2009 and 2014 had been 1,53,439 and 20,870 votes respectively.